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The US declares monkeypox a public health emergency – US News News – Report by AFR

The United States on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a move that should free up new funding, help with data collection and allow additional personnel to be deployed to fight the disease.

“We stand ready to take our response to the next level in fighting this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and take responsibility to help us fight this virus,” said Xavier Becerra, Minister for Health and Human Services, in an appeal.

The statement, which is initially for 90 days but can be extended, came as statewide cases topped 6,600 on Thursday, about a quarter of them from New York state.

Experts believe the real number in the current outbreak could be much higher because symptoms can be subtle, including isolated lesions.

The US has so far shipped about 600,000 JYNNEOS vaccines – originally developed against monkeypox’s related virus, smallpox – but that number is still a far cry from the roughly 1.6 million people thought to be most at risk who are taking the vaccine need most.

About 99 percent of U.S. cases so far have been in men who have sex with men, the Department of Health and Human Services said last week, and that’s what population agencies are aiming for in the national vaccination strategy.

Unlike previous outbreaks in Africa, the virus is now predominantly spread through sexual activity – but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say other routes are possible, including sharing bedding, clothing and prolonged personal contact.

The US statement comes after the World Health Organization last month also classified the outbreak as an emergency – something it reserves for diseases of utmost concern.

Also on Thursday, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said his agency was considering a move that would allow clinicians to administer five doses of the vaccine based on one dose of existing vials.

The vaccine is currently administered subcutaneously, but the new approach would involve intradermal administration at a shallower angle.

That “basically means sticking the needle in the skin and creating a little pocket there for the vaccine to go into, so that’s really not very unusual,” Califf said.

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